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GOP Duo Want a Law to Count Costs of EPA's Clean Air Rules

A peer-reviewed study showed Clean Air rules would yield $2 trillion in benefits; Sens. Jim Inhofe and Mike Johanns move legislation for a new tally

By Elizabeth McGowan

Mar 21, 2011
Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska

WASHINGTON— Senators Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Mike Johanns of Nebraska have no quibble with the enormous environmental and health benefits of the federal Clean Air Act.

It's what they consider to be exorbitant costs associated with executing the affiliated regulations that so alarm the Republican duo.

Those financial fears have prompted them to introduce legislation that calls for establishing a high-powered Department of Commerce-led committee to execute exacting arithmetic to calculate the total price tag of far-reaching rules the is now preparing.

Both senators are members of the .

The EPA's mission, of course, is to protect the environment and the public's health. However, Johanns and Inhofe are concerned that EPA's analysis of each rule it issues does not examine the overall economic impact on jobs or specifics, such as effects on retail electricity rates, gasoline prices, power plant closings, state and local governments, small businesses, the domestic refining and petrochemical sector, energy-intensive manufacturers and reliability of electricity delivery.

What's called the "" — CARE, for short — would require an analysis of each of these sectors. At the very least, the committee would include the EPA administrator, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the chief counsel for advocacy at the Small Business Administration, as well as the secretaries of the Agriculture, Defense, Energy and Labor departments.

"This is a very simple effort to get the federal government to weigh the impact of EPA's regulatory regime on job creation and the overall economy," Johanns, the former Agriculture Department secretary, said when the bill was unveiled Wednesday.

"It would infuse common sense into an agency that seems to be in dire need of it. Our country's ag producers, families and job creators deserve to know the cost of the rules being aimed directly at them."

Inhofe Praises Bill at Hearing

Inhofe, the ranking member of the environment panel, touted his bill last Thursday during a joint hearing of the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, and Green Jobs and the New Economy subcommittees.

He told Mayor Richard Homrighausen that the CARE measure means "help is on the way" because it would require a panel to look at "impacts on jobs, agriculture, manufacturing, coal, electricity and gasoline prices — all the things that you and mayors like you care about." The mayor of Dover, Ohio, was one of five witnesses offering testimony during the hearing.

"I think we all embrace the significant air quality improvements achieved by businesses and other regulated sources under the Clean Air Act since 1970," Inhofe said in his opening remarks. "I think we also agree that we want clean air progress to continue. Now, here's where we disagree: on the extent, on the pace and on the tools we use to achieve future success in reducing real pollution."

Whether the Clean Air Act creates jobs and boosts the economy is a tension-filled bone of contention between Democrats and Republicans. Both sides seem to be armed with an equal number of studies that can prove the specific negative or positive points they point to during debates.

EPA released a revealing that Clean Air Act regulations added to the books between 1990 and 2005 to reduce soot and smog pollutants will yield $2 trillion in benefits by 2020, mostly by preventing premature deaths.

Johanns told hearing participants how frustrating it is not to be able to find information from what he considers to be a neutral source. Without access to a rigorous analysis, he said, the discussion "might be interesting to watch on television, but it's not a helpful debate."

“"If we choose wrong here," he continued, "the implications are very, very serious."

Timing on Bill Is Key

GOP - price and value

It strikes me that the people who are either inclined towards the GOP or are part of the GOP are the people who have a tendency to know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Cost of EPA Rules

Any industry report on costs is very likely to fudge on the gains in employment from regulations: air pollution control technologies, contractors to install them, mid-level managers to operate them and report to state and federal agencies on emissions reductions, and so forth. Labor of this kind is a cost to industry, but a benefit to those employed, not to mention their families, the educational system that prepares them as professionals, and the health of the society that breathes cleaner air. The political mantra about job creation actually contradicts, in an important way, the accompanying "truth" about profit growth. Often the two are directly at odds.


WHOSE costs? WHOSE gains?

Cost of Clean air Rules

Dah, all those numbers are already known.  but when you don't like the answers you try something else.  If you are going to count the costs be sure you count the benefits (i.e. costs to other parts of the economy for not having those rules; say emergency room visits).  I would like our elected officals to stop grand standing and work on the issues that matter.



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